When our friends Jim and Colleen recently has us over for dinner, I wanted to bring something different than the usual chocolate cake. Since I'm still looking for ways to use my newly-acquired cake ring, I decided to try Jacques Torres' Fraisier recipe from Dessert Circus, one of the two companion cookbooks to the public television series of the same name. While "fraise" means "strawberry" in French, Torres also adds raspberries to his cake.
The two main components of this cake are a sponge cake ("biscuit") and a raspberry buttercream. To make the biscuit, you whip six egg whites with sugar until stiff, fold in eight egg yolks, and then fold in flour. You put the batter in a pastry bag and pipe out spirals on parchment paper to form the cake rounds. You sprinkle on a bit of powdered sugar before putting them in an oven so that a nice crust will form during baking. The cakes bake quickly (6-10 minutes) at high temperature (400 degrees). I ended up making the cakes twice, because the first time I made two errors: I overbeat the egg whites, and I forgot to sprinkle on the powdered sugar before baking (and now I know that omitting the powdered sugar results in a sticky top crust, instead of a nice dry crust).
The cookbook offers two choices of basic buttercream recipes. The first includes 1 egg, 5 egg yolks, water, sugar, and over 3 cups of butter. The second calls for water, sugar, 5 egg whites, and 2 and 1/4 cups of butter. I went with the latter, both because it used less butter, and because I already had 4 extra egg whites on hand (from making two batches of the biscuit batter, since each batch produces two extra whites). To make "Basic Buttercream 2," you beat the egg whites until foamy, beat in a sugar syrup that has been heated to 250 degrees, and continue mixing until the meringue is no longer hot. Then you incorporate the butter all at once and whip until the buttercream is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. For this cake you fold 3/4 cup raspberry jam (a recipe is provided, but let's get real, I used store bought jam) into the buttercream.
Nonetheless, this was a lovely, delicious dessert, and it's an amazing way to showcase berries. I look forward to making this again, especially in summer, during strawberry season!
Recipes: "Fraisier," "Biscuit," and "Basic Buttercream 2," from Dessert Circus: Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make at Home, by Jacques Torres.